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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Marcella II: Noir, with a Vengeance



Marcella - billed as Nordic Noir in English - is back with a vengeance in its second season on Netflix.  Which is to say, it is at least twice as dark, brutal, and violent as its first noir-season, which I reviewed here last year.

The denouement of the non-Marcella story - that is, the murders which she and her team are investigating, which don't personally involve Marcella - was sufficiently harrowing.  And it actually did personally involve Marcella at the end, since her son came razor close - or actually via something other than a razor - to becoming a victim.  The villain - a woman traumatized by the death of a friend when they were younger, to lobotomize kids to make sure they don't do horrible things when they grow up - was somewhat familiar (not the character but that kind of motivation), or something we've seen the likes of on shows like Criminal Minds.  But the way our narrative gets there, with all kinds of twists and turns and unexpected deaths and lives ruined, was fresh and shocking.

The Marcella story - that is, the story of why she is having her blackouts - was barely developed until the non-Marcella story was resolved, but once it became center stage, in the last episode, its progress and resolution was about as grim as it gets.  Marcella under hypnosis remembers that she was responsible for the death of her baby, which she shook too hard in an effort to quiet the baby.  At least, that's what Marcella remembers - or thinks she remembers - but it wasn't 100% clear on the screen that Marcella's shaking of her baby actually killed her.

The immediate aftermath of this revelation was sheer adrenalin.  Marcella draws on a technique we saw in first season - DNA swapping (we saw several themes from the first season well woven into the second) - to fake her death, and join some other branch of British law enforcement.  This leaves more than enough room for a third season - which would be welcome to see, if only because Marcella would able to work without her black-outs.

Tour-de-force acting by Anna Friel in the title role, and memorable acting by just about everyone on screen.  Count on me being back here a review of the third season next year, or whenever it's aired.

See also Marcella (I): Offbeat and Compelling

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